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May 23, 2015

Four villages taken by Al-Shabaab in S. Somalia: gov't

(Medeshi)- MOGADISHU, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Four villages south of Mogadishu have fallen under the control of the Al-Qaida linked militant group Al-Shabaab, barely few days after the government forces recaptured them, authorities said on Saturday.

Lower Shabelle governor Abdulkadir Mohamed Nor Sidii said the militants attacked the four villages of Awdheegle, Mubaarak, Dameeri and Shaam on Friday night.

"They attacked the villages last night and heavy fighting broke out. Unfortunately, we lost a senior military commander in the fight," Sidii said.

Local resident Mahamud Nor told Xinhua the fighting broke out at 2:00 a.m. and has been going on into the morning.

"We heard heavy gunfire while we were sleeping, and soon there was continuous fighting. We cannot get out of our houses because the fighting is still going on," another resident told Xinhua by phone.

Al-Shabaab still commands control of some parts of the Lower Shabelle region though they have been pushed from major towns by a joint Somali National Army and African Union backed force AMISOM operations.